While researching the topic of respect and dignity at work, I came across many statements like this, “A Dignity and Respect at Work Policy encourages a working environment that is free from Bullying and Harassment.” And, this exact wording of that idea was the very first sentence in one (rather boring) article I read.
Other articles harp on how much a company loses when there is a large turnover of workers. Their premise that people will hang around longer when treated well makes sense.
But it seems the need to respond with dignity and respect in dealing with your employees loses its power when shrouded in the negativity of losing money “if you ain’t nice.”
Respectful for the right reasons
So, I’ll state (for the record) I know there is a huge financial drag on businesses which can’t retain their employees. Further, I’ll note that when others are treated with dignity and respect across the board, lawsuits (and their costs) derived from bullying and harassment don’t see the light of day.
So, if you “don’t harass” someone, does that mean you respect them and allow their dignity to show through? Not at all!
I’ll give you an example. You can force kids to “play together.” But you can’t force kids to “have fun together.”
Being respectful must come from the heart. And in your construction business, showing respect starts with your attitude. From there, it seeps into the culture you build within your construction company.
The real value of showing respect
I dug further. One article I read on the topic makes a great deal of sense. Glenn Llopis, writing for Forbes says, “Employees want leaders that are likable, understand their needs, can authentically motivate people and know how to energize a workplace culture to generate the best results for the organization.”
Seeking employee input, hearing their concerns, giving recognition when an employee does a good job, are all good ways to show respect for them. And it allows them to see you respect them as individuals.
It’s no mystery; the value of your team increases when they know you respect and value them.
The lowest common denominator is – be nice.
Respect isn’t always easy
With that being said, I must note, being nice isn’t always easy. Bad hair days and grumpy spouses aside, sometimes it takes extra effort to show respect to the noodle-head who has made sixteen mistakes already, and it isn’t even noon.
Keep in mind, showing respect doesn’t mean you don’t call it like it is. It means (when called for) you respect said noodle-head by giving a heads up or a word of caution. You’re not in the land of an elementary school where everyone is recognized as a contributor when the only contribution some kids make is trouble.
Finally, showing respect to others (the rest of your employees) may come in the form of firing the one guy who doesn’t pull his weight – respectfully, of course.
Avoid screaming hissy fits
It is imperative to avoid screaming hissy fits or tawdry put-downs. And, more important than what you leave out of the day is what you put into it. Here are some thoughts and ideas concerning how to develop a company-wide culture of respect and dignity.
- Tell someone what a great job he or she is doing
- Show appreciation publicly
- (Just as importantly) Show appreciation when no one else is around
- Compliment an employee to their supervisor, not just to them personally
- Be sure your employees know they can respectfully disagree (and they will be heard)
- Offer them opportunities for career growth
- Let an employee know you used his or her idea
- (Or) Encourage the employee to implement his or her idea
- Support employees during times of stress
- Treat employees fairly and equally
And remember – smiles can set the tone for the day. Plus, they are quite contagious.
A few other things to consider
- Focus on what went well on the project at a closeout meeting. Be sure to point out individuals as well as teams who “brought it” to the project.
- Provide lunch and updates of progress (no down talk) at last-Friday monthly meetings.
- Make a big deal of the annual company-wide family get-together events.
Show your dignity through being respectful of your staff. And teach them to do the same.
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Schulte and Schulte Provides Accounting, Contract Document Management, and Advisory Board Level counsel for small to medium commercial construction subcontractors.
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